Cree-style round dances are performed by Native people all across Turtle Island. Typically, round dances begin in the evening and last until the wee hours of the morning as a social gathering. Like similar social gatherings, drugs and alcohol are prohibited at these events, emphasizing a clean and healthy lifestyle. Originally this style of dance began as a healing dance for a memorial gathering, which many times would include a pipe ceremony, prayers, a feast and a giveaway once a year for four years after someone has passed to help the spirit and family in their grief and next steps in life.
Ohnia:kara (ah-nee- ah’ga-ra) Singers is a First Nations drum group, and the name Ohnia:kara is a Mohawk word describing “the neck between the two bodies of water” — the origin of the English word Niagara. Our collective belief is that music is our medicine. The songs sung around the big drum are prayers when needed and at other times just plain fun singing together. Various teachings from our diverse cultural backgrounds reflect this. All people are an integral part of the Mother Earth family; the drum represents her heartbeat. There is no word for drum in our languages. In Odawa we call it “daywaygun”, which translates to “living heart” and is recognized as a Spirit, a grandparent with wise and gentle teachings. The final song, “Clearing the Path,” was created as a grass dance with an upbeat tempo, a style of dance to tamp down the grasses prior to the celebration of a pow-wow gathering, welcoming all who come to dance and celebrate life. Ohnia:kara is a collective of many Indigenous nations, some are Ojibwe, Odawa, Mohawk, Tuscarora, Onondaga, Cree, and Innu peoples, as well as many non-native nations. We continue to share our music and grow as individuals, as a group, as members of the community at large and the world as we know it.